16 Tips and Tricks to Keep Your Sanity On a Road Trip with Kids

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16 Tips and Tricks to Keep Your Sanity On a Road Trip with Kids

Road trips are the ultimate American family tradition. While the holidays are rapidly approaching, many families will no doubt be travelling this year by car to visit family or friends out of state. We know that a lot of you will be travelling with children, so today we wanted to give you some advice on how to keep them entertained on long drives so you don’t go holiday crazy before you reach your final destination.

Tip #1: Try to plan your trip around the kids’ nap or sleep hours.

You can leave around their bedtime or later and plan to arrive at your destination when the kids would be waking up normally. This way, the kids can sleep the whole drive and wake up well rested for their vacation.

Tip #2: Pack snacks!

Make sure you add nutritious items like fruit, whole grain crackers, cheese, protein bars, and trail mix so the kids aren’t just filling up on sugary treats where they can’t burn the energy off. Don’t forget some candy, though (for the kids and adults!) Sometimes, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Tip #3: Play “I Spy” with them.

You can either play this in person (“I spy a green truck!”) or print out your very own “I Spy” sheets. There are many options here, but make sure you download them to your computer before printing them so they print correctly. You can also make up your very own, if you’d like!

Tip #4: Turn your backseat into a movie theater.

Purchase a portable DVD player for your backseat. Grab some pillows, blankets and snacks and turn your backseat into a movie theater. Pop in some of the kids’ favorite movies or look for kids’ movies themed to your vacation, like Disney movies for a Disney road trip!

Don’t forget the popcorn!

Tip #5: Put together a road trip kit using a shoebox and fill it with snacks, coloring and activity books, crayons, stickers, and anything else you think will keep your kid(s) entertained.

Tip #6: Play road trip bingo.

Make and print cards in advance or use these cards provided by the Travel Channel. Fun Bingo spots could include seeing a police car, crossing a state line or a national park sign. Use stickers instead of markers for younger kids to cut down on possible messes.

Tip #7: Give the kids a map with your planned route on it.

Depending on their age, they can color in the states as you pass, or if they’re a bit older, they can draw things they saw at each location on the map, mark historical spots along the route to study or make a travel journal.

Tip #8: Bring kid friendly audiobooks to listen to when you want some quiet time.

You can even bring headphones and separate devices for each kid so they have their own age appropriate book to listen to. If your children get motion sickness, an audiobook is a lot easier than reading in a vehicle.

Tip #9: Download some fun age appropriate apps on your devices.

A phone and a fun app can leave a kid distracted for hours. There are tons of different ones to choose from, and you can even make sure some are educational.

Tip #10: Plan pit stops in advance.

Will you be going through your favorite national park? Stop there. Check the rest stops along the way to see if they have a playground for kids. Stop there so they can get all their energy out. Time out your route and plan to grab a meal somewhere where you can get out of the car and sit down. Make sure to plan some stops so you can stretch your legs and use the bathroom, also.

Tip #11: Play a scavenger hunt.

Before you leave, make a list of all of the things you want to find on your road trip scavenger hunt. We’ve got some inspiration for you if you need it. Make it so every member of the family can play along. Make each item worth 5 points, with harder to find items worth 10 points. Make sure to snap photos along your route and document it on social media for your family and friends to follow along. The person with the highest amount of points at the end of the trip wins. Think of a fun prize that is themed to your destination.

Tip #12: Play a game of would you rather?

This is one that can keep you all entertained for hours. For inspiration, would you rather have an extra finger or an extra toe? Would you rather eat a beetle or get strung by a bee? A quick google search will provide you with tons of would you rather questions that are kid friendly!

Tip #13: Plan an hourly surprise.

Set an alarm and have things prepared like coloring books, cards, stickers, or candy ready for each hour. This can cut down on the “how much longer?” questions and provide smaller ones with an easier reference of time.

Tip #14: Road trip lego boxes are the best!

Make road trip lego boxes in advance stuffed with legos so your kids can get creative while they ride. You can use a pencil box to store these in, but make sure they put the legos back so you don’t have a mess when you arrive at your destination.

Tip #15: Purchase some travel games at Target or the dollar store local to you.

Take the kids a few days before you leave for your trip and let them choose one or two games each, like Hungry Hungry Hippo or Tic Tac Toe, or buy a few in advance to use as surprises along the trip.. Make sure to purchase something to store your games in so they don’t end up lost in the black hole of the traveling car. Make this a tradition for each trip and watch how fast your stock of travel games grows!

Tip #16: Have a dance party!

This tip won’t really last for long, but it’s a fun way to get your energy out and dance and sing to some of your family’s favorite tunes.

Make sure you check out our blog with tips for safe driving on road trips and enjoy your holiday season! 

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